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Dundee, Forfarshire

Historical Description

DUNDEE, a royal burgh, a sea-port town, and parish, in the county of Forfar; containing, with part of the village of Lochee, 62,794 inhabitants, of whom 60,553 are within the burgh, 14 miles from Forfar, and 47 (N. by E.) from Edinburgh. This place appears to have derived its name, in ancient records written Don Mary Donum Dei, from the erection of the church in the twelfth century by David, Earl of Huntingdon, brother of King William the Lion, on his landing here in safety after a severe storm, on his return from the Holy Land, whither, with 500 of his countrymen, he had accompanied Richard Cœur de Lion, King of England, in his third crusade. In fulfilment of his vow to grant to him the first ground on which he should land on his return, the Scottish monarch gave his brother the site now occupied by Dundee; and the earl, in gratitude for his preservation from shipwreck, erected a spacious church, around which subsequently arose the present town. There seems to have been a castle or fortress on the summit of a rock rising precipitously from the river, the origin of which is altogether unknown, and which, after the erection of the church, became a royal residence; but from the shelter it afforded to the enemy in the wars with England during the reign of Edward I., it was ultimately demolished by the Scots. In the war consequent on the disputed succession to the Scottish throne, the town was twice taken by the army of Edward I., by whom it was plundered and burnt; and in 1385 it was again nearly reduced to ashes by the English forces under the Duke of Lancaster. It suffered a similar devastation from the English army commanded by the protector, Somerset, in an attempt to compel the regency of Scotland to negotiate a contract of marriage between the infant princess Mary, afterwards Queen of Scots, and the son of Henry VIII., Edward VI. of England. At the time of the Reformation, the inhabitants, who were zealous for the cause, proceeded to Edinburgh to assist in besieging the French troops stationed in Leith; but they were repulsed with considerable loss, and many of them were killed in endeavouring to effect their retreat into Edinburgh.

In 1645, the Marquess of Montrose, at the head of 150 cavalry and 600 infantry, sent a summons to the town to surrender, and on the imprisonment of his messenger by the inhabitants, attacked it simultaneously in three different quarters, and after plundering and setting fire to it on the east and north sides, abandoned the people to military execution. In 1651, after the battle of Worcester, the town was besieged by General Monk, to whom it was compelled to yield, though not without a valiant resistance. The governor, Lumsden, retired with part of the garrison to the tower of the church, which for some time he maintained to the annoyance of the enemy; but being at length obliged to submit, he was inhumanly murdered in the churchyard, together with all his companions, and his head placed on a spike on the battlements of the tower. On this occasion, the town was plundered of every thing of value, and sixty ships in the harbour were laden with the spoils, valued at £200,000 sterling, and sent off to England; but in passing the bar near the mouth of the river, every vessel was lost. The inhabitants were slaughtered without regard either to age or sex; and in the general carnage, which continued for three days, it is estimated that more than one-sixth of the inhabitants were put to death. In 1669, the town was so greatly reduced that an act of parliament was passed, recommending it to the benevolent consideration of the whole kingdom; and contributions were made for its assistance by all the principal burghs in the country. The various calamities which the town had experienced were, moreover, subsequently aggravated by a dearth that lasted for seven years; and it was not till after the rebellion in 1745 that it began to recover its former importance, since which time few events of historical interest have taken place. In 1841, three of the churches were destroyed by an accidental fire which originated from a stove in the passage between the South and the Steeple churches, on the morning of the 3rd of January. The flames extended to the cathedral and the Cross church, but the firemen prevented their communication to the Steeple church, which was saved: the other three, however, about half-past six o'clock, were one mass of fire; the cathedral was completely destroyed, and the South and Cross churches were almost reduced to ruins. In 1844, Her Majesty Queen Victoria, attended by Prince Albert, arrived in the bay of Dundee on Wednesday, the 11th of September, on a visit to Lord Glenlyon, and landed under a triumphal arch erected on the occasion. After remaining a short time in the town, the royal visiters proceeded to Blair-Atholl, where they remained till Tuesday, the 1st of October, when they returned to Dundee, and embarked for London.

The TOWN is advantageously situated on the north bank of the Tay, and consists of numerous streets, several of which retain the names of the ancient gates in the old walls, which have been long since removed. The principal street, called High-street, in which is the market- place, is about 120 yards in length, and 100 feet wide; the houses arc neatly built of stone, and four stories in height. To the east of this is the Seagate, one of the oldest streets of the town, a long narrow thoroughfare leading to the road to Broughty-Ferry. The Murraygate, containing many well-built houses, and the Cowgate, adjoining, are connected with the Seagate by numerous cross streets or lanes. King-street, of modern erection, contains handsome houses, and the Nethergate, in the most improved part of the town, is a spacious street of considerable length, containing many elegant detached houses. Castle-street, leading from the south-east angle of the High-street to the harbour, and Union-street, opening a direct communication between Craig Pier and the Nethergate, and in the formation of which many unsightly houses have been rebuilt in an excellent style, are each spacious and handsome. Among the various improvements that have been effected of recent years, is the construction of the splendid Reform-street. The streets are well paved, and the roads macadamized; the town is lighted with gas, from works established by a company, about a mile eastward of High-street, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water. One of the most remarkable features of the town is the lofty tower, 156 feet in height, at the west end of the imposing mass of buildings comprising the Old, South, Cross, and Steeple churches: its design is foreign in its character, and, as has been remarked, it is "more like the tower of a hotel de ville than of a church". The public subscription library contains a collection of more than 6000 volumes; there are also district libraries connected with the several churches, each of which has nearly 1000 volumes. A spacious and elegant reading and news room has been opened near the harbour, called the Exchange Coffee-Room, which is supported by above 400 subscribers; and an artisans' reading-room, well supplied with daily journals, has been founded by members of the Watt Institution, and has 200 subscribers. The Watt Institution was established in 1896 for the delivery of lectures on scientific subjects, and now possesses an extensive library, consisting chiefly of works of art. A reading-room has also been provided by Messrs. Brown, proprietors of spinning-mills, for the use of their workmen. There is a theatre in Castle-street. a handsome and well-arranged edifice; and card and dancing assemblies are held in the town- hall, and other public buildings. A horticultural society was established in 1824, under the patronage of the neighbouring nobility and gentry; and a florists' society has also been formed. The old gardens of Chapelshade, in the vicinity of the town, have been converted into a cemetery, and tastefully laid out in walks, parterres, and shrubberies, with appropriate embellishments; and to the north, a public bleach-green, four acres in extent, and containing the requisite apparatus for family washing, has been inclosed, and planted with ornamental shrubs. An act for a better supply of water to the town was passed in the year 184.5, and an act for a better supply of gas in 1846.

The principal trade pursued is the linen manufacture, which was introduced at an early period, and, till within the last forty or fifty years, was carried on entirely by hand, both in spinning the yarn and weaving the cloth, to a very considerable extent for the supply of the neighbourhood, and also for exportation. Since the introduction of machinery and the application of steam, however, it has increased to an amazing amount. In 1811 four spinning-mills had been erected, driven by steam-engines of the aggregate power of sixty-one horses, consuming 468 tons of flax annually, and producing 224,600 spindles of yarn; and the whole of the capital invested in machinery amounted to £22,000. At present there are more than thirty-six spinning-mills in Dundee and the immediate neighbourhood, driven by steam-engines of the aggregate power of 600 horses, consuming a vast quantity of flax, and producing annually 7,500,000 spindles of yarn; and the capital invested in machinery is about £240,000. In these mills above 3000 persons are regularly employed, of whom a large proportion are women and children. The number of mills for weaving is still larger. The total number of families employed in the different departments of the linen trade is 7000, and the amount of wages annually paid is £160,000. The flax is chiefly imported from Russia, Brabant, Holland, and Prussia; and in 1846 the quantity of flax, hemp, and kindred substances that was landed at Dundee was about 40,000 tons. The goods manufactured are, Osnaburghs, sheetings, sailcloth, sacking, and banging, and various other articles, of which large quantities are exported to the West Indies, North and South America, and to various ports on the continent. Nearly 800,000 pieces of cloth of various sorts were exported in 1846. The tanning of leather, which was formerly carried on to a very considerable extent, has for some years been rapidly diminishing, and is now almost extinct; but the manufacture of ropes and cordage is in a thriving state. There are also several machine-factories, candle-factories, and sugar-refineries.

The trade of the port consists chiefly in the exportation of grain and agricultural produce, and the different articles of the linen manufacture; and in the importation of flax, hemp, lime, coal, ashes, timber, iron, tar, whale-blubber, tallow, and other merchandise. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port in 1844 was 326, of the aggregate burthen of 50,901 tons; the amount of duties paid at the custom-house was £42 737 The number of vessels that entered inwards from foreign ports in a late year was 307, of which 253 were British and 54 foreign; the coasting-trade is very extensive, and it appears that in one year 1858 vessels entered inwards, and 1017 cleared outwards. The HARBOUR, previously to the year 1815, was small, and insufficient to accommodate the trade of the port; but in that year, an act for its improvement and for placing it under the management of commissioners was obtained, and before 1833 the sum of £242,000 was expended in the construction of two capacious wet-docks, nearly eleven acres in extent, and commencing a third of much more ample dimensions. A large tide-harbour was also formed, with extensive quays, as well as a graving-dock, capable of receiving three of the largest class of merchant-ships, with commodious yards for building and repairing vessels. A substantial low-water pier has since been erected on the Craig, the usual landing-place from Newport in Fifeshire, between which place and Dundee regular intercourse by steamers is maintained. A stationary light has been placed on the Craig pier, on the western side of the harbour, and also on the pier at Newport; there is likewise a light exhibited on the east pier, and another on the middle pier, at the entrance of the docks. A grant of £8000 was lately made by government for the erection of a new custom-house at the north-east angle of King William's dock; it is a handsome building in the Grecian style, and contains also accommodation for transacting the business of the harbour commissioners and of the excise-office. Prior to 1834, the Dundee, Perth, and London Shipping Company employed eight smacks in the London trade, having an aggregate burthen of 991 tons; also three vessels in the Glasgow trade, four in the Liverpool, and four in the Perth, the tonnage of these eleven amounting to 673. In that year, however, the company built two powerful steamers, the Dundee and the Perth, of 300-horse power each; and subsequently added a third, the London, of 350-horse power. Besides these steamers, they employ four schooners in the London trade, seven sloops in the Glasgow, four in the Leith, and three lighters and a steam-tug in the Perth trade; and the entire tonnage of the steamers and sailing-vessels belonging to the company now amounts to 2686. Two steamers, also, are employed by other parties, in the Dundee and Leith trade. There are several joint-stock whale-fishing companies, employing five ships, averaging 325 tons' burthen each.

The town was originally erected into a royal burgh by charter of William the Lion, and its privileges as such were confirmed by charter of Robert Bruce, and by one of Charles I. in 1641. In consequence of a dispute in the election of a dean of guild, the burgh was disfranchised in 1830, and seven members were appointed by the court of session to manage the interests of the town; but in 1831 the king, in answer to a petition, confirmed an election of the magistrates and council made by the burgesses and heritors; and in the 2nd of William IV. an act was passed, extending the royalty of the burgh and the jurisdiction of the magistrates. Under these regulations, the government is vested in a provost, four bailies, a dean of guild, a treasurer, and fourteen other councillors, elected according to the provisions of the general Municipal act, with the exception of the dean of guild, who is chosen by the guild brethren. Seven of the councillors retire from office annually. There are nine incorporated guilds, the bakers, shoemakers, glovers, tailors, bonnet-makers, butchers, hammermen, weavers, and dyers; and three united trades, the masons, wrights, and slaters. The magistrates have jurisdiction over the whole of the extended royalty, which is coextensive with the parliamentary boundary, and hold courts weekly on Wednesday for the recovery of debts to any amount, in which the bailies preside for one month each in rotation; the more important criminal cases are tried by the sheriff-substitute, who is resident in the town, and those of less importance are disposed of in the police court. The sheriff-substitute also holds a court weekly, during the session, for the recovery of debts not exceeding £8. 6. 8.; and a court for the recovery of small debts is held by the magistrates every alternate week. There is a dean-of-guild court as occasion requires, in which the clerk of the guildry acts as assessor. Under the Police act the town is divided into eleven wards, to each of which are appointed two general and two resident commissioners; and there is also a harbour police. Previously to the Reform act the burgh was associated with Perth, Cupar of Fife, St. Andrew's, and Forfar, in returning a member to the imperial parliament; since that time it has elected a member of its own, and the number of qualified voters is 2827.

The old Town-hall, erected in 1734, on the site of the ancient church of St. Clement, after a design by Mr. Adam, is a spacious and handsome structure with a tower and spire rising to the height of 100 feet. In front is a piazza, behind which are shops and public offices. On the first-floor are two spacious halls, in one of which, embellished with a portrait of Lord Panmure, the corporation hold meetings for the transaction of public business, and in the other the several courts of the magistrates and sheriff are held, and the meetings of the guildry. There are also four arched rooms for the accommodation of the town-clerks and others connected with the courts, and for the preservation of the public records; and above these is the old town gaol, consisting of five apartments, each twenty-four feet in length and twelve feet wide, of which those in front were used for debtors, and the others for criminals. New public buildings, however, of very handsome construction, have been erected by the burgh, at a considerable expense, and containing ample accommodation for the confinement of prisoners. The Trades' Hall, situated at the east end of the market-place, an elegant building of the Ionic order, with a lantern and cupola rising from the centre of the roof, was erected by the nine incorporated trades in 1770, and contains on the first-floor a handsome hall, fifty feet in length and twenty-five feet wide, for holding the general meetings, and nine apartments for the private meetings of each particular trade. The building appropriated as an Exchange is a handsome structure in the Grecian style, erected by a company of subscribers, at an expense of £10,000, and having on the ground-floor a range of offices and shops, and on the first-floor an elegant hall, now used as a reading and news room, to which reference has been already made. There are various banking establishments, namely, the Dundee, the Union, and the Eastern Banks, and four branches of Edinburgh banks: the Forfarshire and Perthshire Insurance Company, the Marine Insurance Company, the Forfarshire Chamber of Commerce, and two associations of underwriters have been also established in the town. The markets are on Tuesday and Friday, and Dundee being the mart of a large surrounding district, they are numerously attended. On Tuesday, manufactured goods and various kinds of merchandise and provisions are exposed to sale in great profusion; and on Friday, in addition to these, there is an abundant supply of grain.

Facilities of communication, besides those by sea, are afforded by excellent roads, of which the coast road to Aberdeen passes through the town: there are turnpike-roads to Cupar-Angus, Forfar, Brechin, and Glasgow, and, by branch roads through Fifeshire, to Edinburgh. The Dundee and Newtyle railway was commenced in 1826, and completed in 1832, at a cost of about £50,000.: it is about eleven miles in length, and at Newtyle is connected with the Scottish Midland Junction railway from Forfar to Perth. An act was obtained in 1847 for the improvement of the line. The Dundee and Arbroath railway was begun in 1836, and completed in 1840; it is about seventeen miles in length, passes close to the shore, and is nearly level throughout. At Arbroath it is connected with a line to Forfar and to Aberdeen. The Dundee and Perth railway, for which an act was obtained in 1845, was opened to Barnhill, not far from Perth, in May 1847, and was subsequently completed to Prince's-street, Perth, a distance bf above 20 miles from this town. Acts of parliament were passed in 1848, authorizing the formation of a junction line of the two preceding railways, the Arbroath and the Perth, in Dundee; and enabling the Dundee and Perth railway company to take a lease of the Arbroath railway. The whole line, from the city of Perth to the town of Arbroath, is now called the Dundee, Perth, and Aberdeen Railway Junction. On the south shore of the Firth of Tay commences the Dundee section of the Edinburgh, Perth, and Dundee railway.

The PARISH is nearly six miles in length from east to west, and varies greatly in breadth, comprising an area of about 4200 acres, of which 254 are woodland and plantations, 135 waste, and the remainder arable and pasture. Its surface is diversified, rising into hills of considerable elevation, of which the Law, and the hill of Balgay, are the most conspicuous. To the west of the town the soil is light and shallow, to the north and east of richer quality, and along the bank of the Tay luxuriantly fertile. The crops are oats, barley, wheat, turnips, and potatoes, with the various grasses; the system of husbandry is advanced, and the lands are in a high state of cultivation. In general the farm-houses are of stone, and roofed with slate; the lands are inclosed partly with stone dykes, and partly with hedges of thorn. The only cattle pastured are milch-cows on the several farms. The soil is well adapted for fruit of every kind, and considerable portions of the land near the town are laid down in gardens, and also in nursery-grounds: the plantations arc ash, plane, beech, a few elms, and larch and Scotch fir, which are in a thriving state, but are rather ornamental than profitable. In this parish the principal substrata are sandstone, amygdaloid alternated with trap, and red porphyry. The annual value of real property in the parish is £118,326.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes Dundee is within the bounds of the presbytery of Dundee, synod of Angus and Mearns. The parish was in 1834 separated, by act of the presbytery, into the districts of St. Mary, St. Paul, the Grey Friars, St. John, St. Clement, St. David, St. Andrew, and Chapelshade, each of which was erected into a quoad sacra parish; and in 1836, by the same authority, part of the districts of St. John and St. David was formed into the additional quoad sacra parish of St. Peter. These arrangements, however, in common with similar arrangements in other parts of the country, were afterwards abrogated. The parish of St. Mary comprised, according to the plans just referred to, the rural district of the parish of Dundee, and part of the suburbs of the town: the minister's stipend is £313. 6., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £25 per annum; patrons, the Town Council. The Old and South churches, partly used by the inhabitants of St. Mary's, have since the great fire been restored, and contain together about 2450 sittings, of which 1350 are in the latter. St. Paul's parish, wholly within the town, comprised an extent of about half a mile square: the stipend is £274. 17.; patrons, the Town Council. The congregation assemble alternately in the Old and South churches. The parish of the Grey Friars comprised about one-eighth part of the town and suburbs: the minister's stipend was £275. 2.; patrons, the Town Council. Divine service is performed in the Old and South churches. Connected with the Established Church is a Gaelic chapel, erected within the last few years, at a cost of £2400, and containing 100 sittings: the minister has a stipend of £110, of which £10 are granted by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and the remainder derived from seat-rents; patrons, the male communicants. St. John's parish was about half a mile in length, and of nearly equal breadth: the stipend is £2/5; patrons, the Town Council. The church, called the Cross church, containing about 1037 sittings, was destroyed in 1841 by the fire, but has been restored. St. Clement's parish was three-quarters of a mile in length, and one-quarter of a mile in breadth: the minister's stipend is £300; patrons, the Council. The church, called the Steeple church, was rebuilt in 1782, and contains 1463 sittings. St. David's was about two miles in length, and three-quarters of a mile in breadth: the stipend is £275; patrons, the Council. The church was built in 1800, at a cost of £2220, and has 1608 sittings. St. Andrew's was one mile and three-quarters in length, and three-quarters of a mile in breadth: the stipend is £180; patrons, the male communicants. The church was built in 1774, at a cost of £3000, by subscription, and contains 1486 sittings. An additional church has been lately erected by subscription, at an expense of nearly £2000, for 1 100 persons. The parish of Chapelshade comprised nearly two square miles: the stipend is £150, derived from seat-rents; patrons, the male communicants. The church, built originally as a Relief chapel in 1789, was united to the Established Church in 1791; it was enlarged in 1830, at an expense of £880, and contains 1280 sittings. St. Peter's parish, comprising a portion of the parishes of St. John and St. David, separated by the presbytery in 1836, was about a mile and a half in length, and one-quarter of a mile in breadth: the minister's stipend was £220, with an allowance of £12 for communion elements; patrons, the male communicants. The church, containing 1120 sittings, was erected in 1836, at a cost of £2400, of which £250 were granted by the General Assembly, and the remainder raised by subscription. There are places of worship in Dundee for members of the Free Church, the United Presbyterian Synod, the United Original Seceders, Baptists, Baptist-Bereans, and Paedobaptist-Bereans, Episcopalians, the Society of Friends, Glassites, Independents, Primitive and United Methodists, Reformed Presbyterians, Wesleyans, Roman Catholics, Unitarians, and others.

The grammar school is under the care of two classical masters, who have each a salary of £50, and the fees annually produce to each about £60; it is well conducted and numerously attended. The English school has also two masters, one for reading and English grammar, who has a salary of £30, and one for writing and arithmetic, with a salary of £20, in addition to which each master derives about £70 from fees. A school called the Sessional school, lately established, is attended by about 500 children, and conducted by a master who has a salary of £80 per annum; the building was erected on a site given by the town council. The Dundee Academy, for which a spacious and handsome building has been erected in the centre of the town, at a cost of £8000, raised chiefly by subscription, is under the patronage of fifteen directors, of whom five are appointed by the town council and ten by the subscribers. This institution is endowed with £6000, bequeathed by Messrs. Webster, of the city of London, who were natives of the town. The course of studies is very complete, and is superintended by two classical masters; a master for the modern languages; one for moral philosophy, nautical astronomy, and logic; a master for natural philosophy, mathematics, and chemistry; one for drawing and painting; one for English reading, grammar, and geography, and a master for writing and arithmetic. There are numerous other schools in the town and neighbourhood, in which it is calculated that about 4000 children receive instruction. The industrial school for vagrant children was established in 1847. Among the many charitable institutions of the town are, the ancient Hospital, from the revenues of which £500 are annually distributed among poor citizens; the Royal Infirmary, established in 1798, and supported by subscription, which receives more than thirty in-patients, and affords medical attendance and medicines to the poor at their own dwellings; the Royal Lunatic Asylum, erected in 1812, and supported by subscription for the reception of 120 patients; the Royal Orphan Institution, established in 1815; the Indigent-Sick Society, distributing annually £160; the Medical and Surgical Dispensary; the Institutions for the Lame and Blind; the Seamen's Friend Society, dispensing yearly £1500; the Female Society, £190; and the Clothing Society, distributing about £40. These and various other benevolent institutions collectively dispense, in aid of the distressed and indigent, nearly £4000 annually; exclusively of numerous bequests by charitable individuals for similar purposes.

There are still some remains of the ancient palace called Whitehall, the occasional residence of the Scottish monarchs previously to the reign of James VI., and subsequently of Charles II., who lodged in it for some time before the battle of Worcester. The site of the Franciscan convent founded by Devorgilla, mother of John Baliol, and which was destroyed at the Reformation, was granted together with the adjacent lands by Mary, Queen of Scots, to the town for a burying-place. In clearing some ground for the formation of a new street in 1831, the vestiges of an ancient mint, supposed to have been erected by Robert Bruce, were discovered; the smelting furnace was found nearly entire. At the western extremity of High-street is an ancient house in which Anne, Duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth, was born, during the residence of her parents here, who had been driven from the castle of Dalkeith by the commissioners of Cromwell; it was also inhabited by General Monk after he had reduced the town. The castle of Dudhope, once the seat of the Scrimgeours, hereditary constables of Dundee, has been converted into barracks for infantry. There are no remains of the castle of Dundee, which occupied the summit of a steep rock still called Castle Hill. Among the distinguished characters connected with the town, have been, Alexander Scrimgeour, one of the valiant companions of Wallace, by whom he was made constable of Dundee Castle; Sir John Scrimgeour, afterwards Viscount Dudhope, a zealous adherent of Charles I., who fell in the battle of Marston-Moor, and whose son was created Earl of Dundee; the celebrated historian. Hector Boece; the distinguished Admiral Duncan, who obtained the victory over the Dutch fleet off Camperdown in 1797, upon which he was created Viscount Camperdown; also Major-General Andrew Burn, author of several religious publications, who was born at Dundee in 1742, and died at Gillinghara, in Kent, in 1814; the late Rev. Dr. Small, for many years minister of the parish, and author of a work called Kepler's Discoveries; and the late James Ivory, F.R.S., distinguished for his mathematical attainments.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis
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